As for me and my house we will serve the Lord....

Monday, December 28, 2015

Merry Christmas, Happy birthday

Well, Christmas is over and we  celebrated my birthday Saturday evening. Crystal made a delicious German chocolate cake and we watched the Eagles lose unfortunately.

 Garry's birthday  was earlier this week, I made pizza and piecaken and here are a few photos from Christmas day too.

Max was a bit overwhelmed by Christmas day, I think he was amazed that everyone had a present for him and he didn't want to open his stocking presents when it was his turn (we go in order from youngest to oldest in the family, including guests, since we often have girlfriends) He ran down to his room and Garry had to push him back up the stairs, he really just wanted to watch. We made him open it anyway.

 Max did better with the presents, but he keeps saying we need to take some back for the students.

He's a little worried that the new sweaters I bought him say they can't go in the dryer. He has adjusted very quickly to the new way of doing laundry, I think it is one of his favorite things about Canada (in Ukraine we don't have a dryer, and the washer is much slower.)

Garry's best news for Christmas - only three hectares left to plow in Ukraine!
Our third granddaughter had not opened her playset I made when #2 got hers
Blue Jays hats I crocheted were a hit, the boys are planning a trip to see them
play in Minn in the spring and they should get on TV with them!

Join a work team video

Click on the link to check out a four minutes video of photos from last year's renovation. video of last year's work project If you'd like to join a team for 2016 spring or summer e-mail Garry at

Garry is going to be in Canada until January 25th this year.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Meeting Isaac

Garry is adjusting to jet lag well. The first day home he got to meet our first grandson Isaac. He is only four months, but as you can see he's a big boy.

We have been busy with Christmas activities,he watched our boys play basketball in Winnipeg, we went the the farm Christmas party, and celebrated our daughter's birthday. Today we went to our son Matthew's church in Piney to see the girls in the Christmas program for Sunday school. I saw them in their school program Tuesday night before Garry arrived.

Once Christmas is over, Garry hopes to talk to people about joining work teams to come to Ukraine next year. He's probably driving west, so call or email if you want him to see you!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pick up day

Well,  after a very long drive into the city I am sitting in a hotel a few blocks from Winnipeg's airport waiting for Garry's plane to come in. This is plan B, plan A was I would just pick him up and drive home, but we are in a major snowfall warning today, and it was a long slow drive to the city.

 I was glad I had decided to book a room this morning by the time I was halfway out the St Labre Road, which has at least a foot of snow on it. Most of the other roads were snow covered to various degrees, and the wind is supposed to pick up tonight.

I got a message from him that he was about to board in Toronto, and the last flight tracker alert has the plane coming in 5 minutes later than expected, so I should be able to get him in about an hour...

and we'll both be ready to sleep, I'm exhausted, and I know he will be, since it's going to be almost 5 am Ukrainian time.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Keeping busy

Garry seems to be really busy for his last week of teaching in Ukraine, he tells me that they are plowing at night now while the ground is frozen, with two tractors, so I am assuming it is still wet. He says the wheat has come up,(it was when I left two weeks ago, not that you could see it driving past) it is maybe an inch tall, but the fields do not look very green. It is supposed to get cold next week. I guess we will find out in the spring if it survives and amounts to anything. Thursday night at 2 am his time I got a facebook message saying he was going out to plow.

He says that he and Max Rudei plowed all night, and Max's friend  Dima and tractorist Sasha took over in the morning. Garry says it stayed below freezing all day so they could keep plowing, but if the sun comes out it is too slippery. There are 60 hectares left to plow. It takes 20 liters of diesel fuel to plow a hectare, and they buy it in plastic jugs at the gas station just on the highway, so Garry (or Max or Sasha)is running there with the car twice a day now.

One of the second year students posted this photo of them going bowling earlier this week, apparently they went during class. Garry told them he had a visitor coming so they should dress up for class, and then said the guy couldn't get to the village so they would drive to Zaporosia to meet him... and his name started with a B... anyway I think he had some plan to tell the first year students they had to redo their exams on Friday and then take them bowling too.

Garry got his haircut so I guess he'll be ready to come home to Canada next week, i think he's taking the train on Tuesday and flying out Wednesday morning, taking the same route as me, Kiev-Amsterdam-Toronto-Winnipeg...
too bad the weather will be colder here too by the time he arrives, it has been really mild for Manitoba in December this past week.
Max at left, with his international  class and teacher 

I have been busy getting ready for Christmas, mail and presents and cleaning. I did enjoy going to watch our Max Boradin give a presentation in his English class at Providence University College on Tuesday. It was a "free topic" and he talked about time. Today he comes to the farm to stay for four weeks until classes start again.

This picture is so typical Max when he explains something

Friday, December 4, 2015

Farm update

While I am in Winnipeg for the Manitoba Dairy conference, I'll use this nice internet at the hotel tto update some details about farming in Ukraine... unfortunately I forgot the camera with the nice photos I took last week, so here are the cold dry facts!

Garry is enjoying all the equipment that came in the container and the employees are learning how to use it! By the time he arrives here in two weeks, everything should be set, I haven't talked to him to find out if they have built this year's bale insulation wall in the barn yet, I know it's on his to do list.

The TMR mixer is saving money already, someone makes a batch to feed every morning for the cows. Of course since the milk cows are still in the tie stall barn, they need to move the feed inside  with the wheel barrows, but there is hardly any wasted feed to feed the heifers and dry cows now, less than a quarter of what they had been removing everyday, I think Garry said. The TMR mixes all the hay, corn silage and other feed together so well the cows don't sort out the parts they like, and now everything is weighed, so they don't get overfed, which Garry says may be a big reason why they are having less feed wasted. Garry has cut the number of students working over at the new barn, since the big job of feeding is being done by the machine, only the smallest heifers over there are being fed with wheelbarrows now.

Last week one of the milk buyers didn't show up as scheduled (my van broke down is the usual excuse), so the milk tank did not get emptied and washed on Wednesday. Nothing upsets Garry more than selling old milk, so they had the milk truck come buy it on Friday to empty the tank, and he discovered the truck is paying five  grivna a liter. Wait, that's what we have been charging the buyers for the last month, up from four for most of the summer... and the truck is always lower. So the price went up this week to six ( maybe 6.5 for the small volume buyers)!

Two weeks ago after the wet weather arrived, it was too mucky to keep the switch group of cows outside in the barn yard, and twenty were too many to keep clean in the loose housing pens, so Garry decided to dry some off and sell five cows (and one four year old open heifer who never got pregnant) so there are only 10 -12 getting switiched now during milking from the pen to the stalls. Still waiting for a company to say they want to install the equipment in the new parlor, if we'd been in there as planned we could have milked the extra cows this winter.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Both sides now

Garry drove me to Kiev Sunday evening to catch my plane Monday morning. We left Dnepropetrovsk around 4 pm, as dusk was falling, along with rain. We were hoping the rain would stop, as it makes for more difficult driving, the darkness already makes spotting the holes in the road more difficult. Garry had reserved a room in Borispol, which is the city the where the airport actually is and we hoped to be there by ten pm.

We would have left earlier in the day, but Garry has taken a "job" teaching English conversation classes on Sunday afternoons and he has been doing that every Sunday this fall until he comes to Canada in two weeks. While he's doing that, I walk around downtown and buy things. This Sunday I met a fellow missionary to get some things to put in my suitcases to mail to their sons in Canada for Christmas.

So about an hour into the trip we realized it was going to be difficult, as the rain was mixed with fog, rather heavy fog at times, but we were hoping it would clear up as we headed north. Then we hit the big one, as in big pothole, in the rain, fog and oncoming car's lights Garry never saw it. Bang, bang as we drove through it. Stop the car, put on the flashers, find my mini flashlight in my purse/computer bag so Garry could check the front tire. Then he dug around for the mini air compressor under the seats and luggage and plugged it into the cigarette lighter to re-inflate the front tire. As it was filling he walked to the back of the car and noticed it was a double, two flat tires on the same side. That tire pumped up while I talked to our daughter on the cell phone (morning in Manitoba).

Unfortunately, that back tire started making a strange noise further along, so we pumped it up again, as we got into Kremachuk, looking forward to our dinner stop around 6 pm at Mc Donalds, we passed a shino montage (tire fixing place- however first we'd need a tire if this one was shot) and then drove across the bridge over the Dniper River... and it went flat again, so as soon as we were off the bridge, Garry pulled off to the side of the road and we started changing the tire... I say we because I helped some with turning the jack handle and spinning lug bolts off and on. It was raining lightly at this point, the rain varied from light to heavy while we were traveling.

We now needed a new tire, and bought one at the Nova Leni store, after the Mc Donalds drivethru hamburger run. Now to find a shino montage to mount the new tire on the rim, we didn't find one of the drive out of the city. In fact we never found an open one, we stopped at two that were closed,  driving more than 200 kilometers,  cringing every time we hit a hole, praying to make it there safely.

About a half hour after buying the tire, things got worse, when we saw snow mixing with the heavy rain, then it was like we were in a snow globe, or my favorite childhood lamp that turned from the heat of the lightbulb and made a Currier and Ives snow scene with flying snow as it spun around. The road became snow covered, I am sorry there no photos of this to show you. Garry drove slowly to lessen the possible damage of going through the potholes to the tires. We finally found an open shino montage with 30 kms to go, but at that point forged on and arrived in Borispol at 22:22 according the dashboard clock (Ukraine uses a 24 hour clock.) Needless to say we were both very relieved.

I made all my planes after Garry took me to Mc Donalds for breakfast (good thing I had that MacMuffin there was no food on my 10 am flight to Amsterdam on Ukrainian Airlines, only water was free-  Garry, you'll need grivan for your coffee in two weeks! I had to hurry along by the time the plane landed 5 minutes late, taxied forever, then we got on a bus that drove around to drop us off to go through security, and even thorugh my flight was not listed for the rush line, it said "got to gate" on it once I was through taking out and putting away my computer and so on, so hurry to the gate. There was a store I noticed close by so I took my 10 euros and bought 2 packs of stroopwaffles for Christmas as they were calling for families with children under two, Pleasant surprise as row 51 was an exit row so the window seat was fine for getting out to use the rest room. I was really hungry for the nice pasta meal on KLM about eight hours after the Mc Muffin!

It was easy coasting in the Toronto airport with lots of time to get to the plane for Winnipeg, and Garry had an easier drive home with Victor and his wife Elena, who returned from their trip with him, he said he was home by 8 pm and had no flats on the way home. He did get the new tire on the rim after dropping me at the airport that morning, so he was prepared.

Noah and Audrey were waiting at the bottom of the stairs for me in Winnipeg, even though the plane was 20 minutes early so I am home getting ready for Christmas. I should have things cleaned up by the time Garry gets here anyway.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Video of container

Here's a video I put together of unloading the container, click video If you think it looks easy, remember it took three and half hours, you just have to watch three and half minutes... and your toes won't get cold!

Maria and some of the students head to class

We were teaching this past week and are going to teach again this week before I leave for Canada, so is continues to be crazy busy, and I need to pack my bags. The good news is the Ford is back home, they rebuilt the "turbino" since they couldn't get one for at least a week.

Yesterday they were able to use the TMR feed mixer to make the first batch of feed since it arrived on Tuesday morning, it was in the container from Canada. Thursday morning when I arrived home from teaching my first class, I discovered at least six guys (most who work for us) looking it over, they had a problem with the PTO, but they got what the needed at the auto/tractor parts market in Zaporosia later that day.

The rain we've been getting did soften the ground up enough to plow with three bottoms (it had been so hard because of the dry weather that they had taken one off) and get both tractors (we have two plows) out in the field. They were able to start again on Friday, it was actually too wet to plow until then. Garry said it was difficult for the guys yesterday because it was slippery yet. They went today until seven pm, a couple hours after dark. Seems like more wet weather in the forecast for next week and somewhat warm, too.

Right now we are making more milk than ever before here, we were making 800 liters a day, Garry tells me it is closer to 900 now, with many fresh cows and heifers in the last few weeks. We are milking 65 cows in 37 stalls, the milkers switch the groups, so the first group of cows milked are turned out to the barn yard, and the ones who were there get milked and stay in the stalls and get milked first the next milking.

Garry is excited that several of the two year olds who calved recently are actually big enough for the stalls in the tie stall barn. In the five years of milking cows in there, the stalls he made have been too long for the small Ukrainian cows, so they make piles of manure on the platform they lie on. The stalls need to be cleaned off constantly to keep the cows clean, but the Holstein crosses are bigger. Of course, we hope to move them into the free stall barn in the new year, so it won't matter then. Garry is hoping they will give more milk than the average cow, too.

She's already go an eartag, so every one know who she is!
Last week we had a cute little red heifer (female) calf born, seems like Garry was using a red factor bull's frozen semen nine months ago to breed cows, because black cows are having red and white calves in the last month.

 Garry was worried about having a six day old bull calf in the barn last week Saturday, since they were supposed to sell it already, so he had me make a sign.

Apparently my Russian was a little off (the ending on first word) but it worked, they sold that bull calf, and the one born that day.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

It's here! The container has made it to the village

The container was donated by the people at left, Big Steel Box, and is now sitting on top of a couple of old concrete "telephone poles " next to the farm shop. We will use it for storage. For more info about the container, click on the bird photo.
Here are some photos from Tuesday when the trucks arrived. One truck arrived shortly after nine am along with a crane the guys hired to unload everything. That truck had the body of the new hay mower and the feed mixer wagon on. The mixer wagon is used but in great shape with a fresh coat of paint.

 The crane would lift the item up and the truck would drive away and the crane would swing it to the ground.

Then the guys waited for the second truck to arrive... around 1 o'clock it made it. Garry thought it would be quick to unload the container off the truck, but it took several hours to get it in place and unload everything. Most of the stuff went into the farm shop for the evening, except the clothes, which went into our house for now.

Almost ready to go, it was hooked to a tractor by noon. However, there were seven guys outside looking at it this morning  (Thursday) when I got back from class,

First they tried to lift the whole container but it failed...

Some of the students were watching before they went to class
Then they decided to take the skid steer out! They got it started, and Max drove in onto the back of a truck, later they backed up to a ramp and drove it off the little truck.

 Then they rearranged the cables (Garry said the crane did not come with long enough cables) and  crane tried to lift it again...

Unsuccessfully...  so they came up with a new plan...
did I mention that there was a lot of arm waving all day long, as they tried to unload things?

They decided to have the truck drive up into the ditch to unload it. So it went down and turned around to get up a good head of steam and make it up to hill (remember Garry said it was a bad truck and could only go 60 Km an hour,),

First they had to clean out the garbage from the ditch, the truck driver was worried about glass cutting his tires.

 Here the truck comes, with lots of smoke, as he churns up the ditch... remember it rained the day before.

Lift again... then they had to get the truck out, so they hooked one of the tractors to it so it could drive away from the container.
more arm waving

Then they took some more stuff out of the box...

Garry's very excited about the table saw getting here

they had to maneuver the box around with the help of some big pushing power...

and then they pushed it into just the right place with the help of manpower!

And finally they completely emptied the box with the help of the bobcat...

 I finally walked home around 4 pm when the battery on the camera died.